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If you like to play around with nozzles and tips, the new flagship from FiiO is excellent to work with.
To be honest, I personally don’t like this concept to begin with, but I will try to reflect the differences as much as I can for you to have a basic idea about the IEM. However, I will evaluate the FH7’s sound with the standard setup first. After my general impressions, I will talk about the other tips and nozzles. Let’s start with the FH7’s standard setup and see if it can perform well.
Before I dive into the spectrum, I would say that the FH7 sounds more balanced, transparent, neutral and “flat” per se, compared to the FH5.
To me the FH5’s sound wasn’t balanced enough and sometimes subbass felt “too big” or too strong to say the least, and the FH7 immediately solves the problem. If you remember my latest articles, I mentioned that hybrid IEMs nowadays sound more balanced and cohesive, just like the Oriveti’s OH300 and OH500. FiiO have managed exactly that, and it’s something that I hope more companies can achieve.
(Image Credit: Headfonia)
The bass response is certainly improved with the FH7 in terms of control, refinement and texture. This is a much better and natural bass performance to me versus the FH5, and that provides other frequencies more fresh air to perform.
This is all because of this refined bass response. The new 13,6mm driver has more authority and power to produce the bass kicks and notes effortlessly.
Hence, you have more control and refinement in this area. Subbass is much more under control and the midbass is at the right level. This might have something to do with their “S.Turbo V2.0” acoustic bore system, which is improved over the FH5.
Build quality and fit
The shells of the FH7 are made from a CNC’d aluminium-magnesium alloy and it feels excellent. I love this sort of build quality. The shells are quite light, but feel really solid and I would happily stuff them in a pocket or leave them lying around without worries, which is not something I can say of all my IEMs. I feel compelled to baby some of my most expensive IEMs because they feel fragile, not so with the FH7.
FiiO describes the styling as ‘avant-garde style’, but I will say that I am personally leaning more towards describing it as art deco style. Of course I haven’t the faintest clue about art, so don’t take my word for it, but the wavy pattern and the contrast between the black and the copper invoked that association with me. (I can just see the lead designer at FiiO sniffing at me and with a snooty tone commenting… “What an utter philistine!”)
(Image Credit: Wyville on Head-fi)
The FH7 of course also have the filter system and in my experience this can be a bit of a weak point. I have previously owned IEMs where the filters had poor threading and after playing around with them too much, I ended up with filters that would barely thread in place.
FiiO however have done an excellent job with these and even though I have exchanged them frequently, I am confident in how they thread in place. I still would not recommended switching them five times a day, but I think most people will find their preferred filter and stick to that anyway.
While I might have mentioned that I appreciate the large selection of tips that FiiO included because I usually have trouble getting a good fit, I did not really need them for the FH7. The fit was excellent straight out of the box. The FH7 sit flush in my ears and are very comfortable to wear for long sessions. I certainly rate these among the most comfortable and easy to fit IEMs I have tried.
FiiO also included an 8-wire stock cable that is comfortable, has good ergonomics without any noticeable microphonics. It does have quite sturdy pre-bent ear guides, but even with my glasses I did not really have any issues with the cable at all.
Of course later in this review I will also discuss the LC-2.5D aftermarket cable that FiiO sent along, which is a 4-wire pure silver cable that could make for an interesting upgrade.
The cable of the FiiO FH7 is a litz style cable. It has 8 individually insulated conductors which are braided together. Additionally, the cable has a beautiful look because the jackets are clear, revealing the gorgeous copper-plated silver wires.
Additionally, the cable of the FiiO FH7 has a standard length of 1.2 m. And while the 8 strands of wire eventually bundle to make a wire that is slightly thicker than I would want, they are malleable and wrap up extremely easily. They are not stiff, and are easy to control.
(Image Credit: Majorhifi)
The FiiO FH7 has five drivers in total: four Knowles balanced armature drivers and one beryllium dynamic driver. They work together through a special crossover and a turbo acoustic design.
A Knowles SWFK-31736 powers the high and ultra high frequencies of the FiiO FH7. These drivers are used in other high-end IEMs and have a clear sound without being harsh, according to FiiO.
Next, FiiO and Knowles collaborated on a balanced armature driver which is dedicated to the middle frequencies. This collaboration was in an attempt to bring more body and soundstage to the midrange.
Lastly, the low frequencies come together via a 13.6 mm beryllium dynamic driver. This is the same material that goes into high-end Focal headphones, so I’m super excited to see how the bass comes across with these IEMs.
Primeaudio ( Comparison with Dunu DK-3001)
The DK-3001 is a hybrid quad-driver IEM with a 10mm dynamic driver and 3 balanced armature drivers.
It has added mid-bass and more fullness in the lower midrange while its core midrange is slightly more recessed than the FH7. The DK-3001 pushes ahead again in the upper midrange, resulting in snappier percussion instruments and more presence.
Throughout the lower treble both IEMs are reasonably forward, adding clarity and presence but the timbre of the FH7’s treble seems more natural. The FH7’s treble extends further, giving it more airiness and sparkle.
Overall, the DK-3001 is more V-shaped while the FH7 has a linear presentation. The FH7 has slightly increased resolution and transparency while the DK-3001 goes for a more fun approach with its enhanced bass and less forward midrange.
Custom Art FIBAE Black
The FIBAE Black is a single balanced armature IEM that utilizes a unique implementation of a Helmholtz resonator to achieve a sound signature that was loosely based on the Olive-Welti earphone target.
The most immediate difference noted is the Blacks smoother and laid back treble. Listening to it side by side with the FH7 immediately makes the FH7 sound strident in comparison. The Black has a darker timbre with breathy voice colours that creates a more inviting and smoother presentation.
The FH7, on the other hand, has a more aggressive and powerful sound that uses a contrast between its ethereal treble and bold bass to give it contrast, intensity and precision. The FIBAE Black is more easygoing and musical in comparison while the FH7 is more detailed and resolving with increased clarity.
Tech inside FH7
The FH7 shell is quite big for a reason as it hides 4 balanced armature drivers inside and a big ass 13.6mm dynamic driver.
Knowles sourced armature drivers will take care for midrange and treble duties and for a deep bass response FiiO developed a massive 13.6 mm beryllium coated driver and a custom cross-over to make them play nicely together. As far as I know the beryllium coated drivers in an IEM, that’s a first in the industry. Focal puts it in a much bigger desktop headphones, FiiO decided to put into portable IEMs. FiiO and Focal for that matter chose beryllium for its flexibility, lightness and extreme rigidity to withstand explosive bass dynamic swings that regular cellulose drives can’t render.
Besides putting beryllium on the dynamic driver FiiO also further developed a subwoofer like S.TURBO 2.0 acoustic design having inside a longer rounded sound turbines to further improve the bass response. This technology was first implemented in FH5 but was further improved with FH7.
There are also two very tiny almost invisible holes in the metal shell that will take out the air pressure between your ear canal and FH7 for a much better comfort during listening sessions.
Twister6 (FiiO FH7 and LC-2.5D）
Before going into the presentation, I would like to draw attention to the filters that FiiO included with the FH7 because I think something is going on there that is well worth noting.
FiiO include three filters with the FH7 that provide a slightly different tuning: Bass Boost, Reference Sound, and High Boost. When the FH7 arrived the Reference Sound filters were installed.
(Image Credit: Twister6)
Reference Sound (black)
I personally do not quite rate this as a reference sound. The bass is quite strong with plenty of body, although it does not overpower the mids. The mids themselves feel perhaps a hint back to create a slight U-shaped signature. The treble is quite sparkly and has a sharpness to it, giving a brightness that might be a bit much for more treble sensitive people. [Raises hand.]
Bass Boost (red)
To my ears the bass is not boosted as such, but it feels like the filter attenuates the treble to become more laid-back and give the signature an overall warmer feel. The bass itself becomes more prominent to add more excitement, but without becoming too bloated and while maintaining a brighter overall feel that can still be a bit too bright for some.
High Boost (green)
When I first listened to the FH7 with the Reference Sound filters I found it a touch too bright and a little fatiguing because I am somewhat treble sensitive, so the High Boost filters felt like they would be the stuff of nightmares. Of course, being a reviewer, I knew I had to risk life and limb for the benefit of my readers, who no doubt counted on me to sacrifice my well-being in order to provide a comprehensive review.
So, I installed the High Boost filters and, as sweat started dripping over my forehead, put in the FH7 and pressed ‘play’… Wait? What?! Did I install the wrong filters? Nope! But… But… The treble… It is smooth.
Porta.fi (Comparison with 6 IEM)
Dunu DK-3001 The model from Dunu has less weight on the lows and is considered to be more detailed however the real resolution is the same. Also DK-3001 is more detailed in the mids but this leads to less natural balance of weight in this area. In highs you will have to choose between the increased length in DUNU and more natural presentation of FiiO.
IMR R1 Zenith Here the difference is well understood and is present due to different drivers. The highs are better with Zenith, piezo twitter is the best here, in the mids FH7 sound more detailed due to the use of armature transducers. The bass is almost the same in speed and weight while they allow to tune it with their filters.
Simgot EM5 The model with similar price but having a rather different presentation – they are more neutral with more micro details, less lows and better highs length.
Astrotec Delphinus5 These IEMs have a big plus – lively and very organic mids, but the highs are more simple than FH7. Lows have less weight due to pure armature scheme.
FiiO FH5 In comparison to the small brother, FH7 offer more neutral and more natural presentation with more precise lows and increased naturalness in mids and highs.
FiiO FA7 It is even more simple, the all-armature model has an accent in lower part of the frequency range so you will need to choos what accent you like the most – on mids or highs.